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Western Wisconsin News Roundup: State panel denies wind farm project in Town of Forest

MADISON - A company that wants to create a wind energy farm in far western Wisconsin says it will keep trying, after the State Public Service Commission said no to its project yesterday. The panel voted 2-1 against a plan by Emerging Energies of Hubertus to set up 41 wind turbines in the Saint Croix County town of Forest.

The Highland project, as it was called, would have produced over 102-megawatts of electricity - enough to provide power to 30,000 homes. The commission still left the door open for another application, after a new study is done on the effects of noises from a wind farm affecting area residents. Commissioner Ellen Nowak said the developer never proved that its project would have complied with a standard noise level of less than 45-decibels at night. It was the first major wind project to be considered by the PSC since Governor Scott Walker appointed two of the panel's three members.

In 2011, Walker proposed longer setbacks for wind turbines from rural homes and property lines - but lawmakers never considered them, and the governor made no other initiatives himself. Former Governor Jim Doyle was a champion of wind energy. His only remaining appointee on the commission, Eric Callisto, said he would have allowed the project only with binding conditions to protect nearby residents from excessive noise.


People who own forest lands are invited to a conference next month in southwest Wisconsin, to be put on by natural resource officials from Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. The Tri-State Forestry Conference will feature experts in forestry and other natural resources from all three states. They'll share information on wildlife and woodland management, timber taxes, and products made in forests like syrup and ginseng. The gathering is set for March 9th at the Sinsinawa Mound Center at Sinsinawa in Grant County.


A jury in western Wisconsin is expected to decide today whether a man should be freed, after spending 25 years in a mental institution for killing four people. 65-year-old Alvin Taylor petitioned for his release from the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison. Dunn County District Attorney James Peterson urged jurors yesterday to re-commit him, saying the brutal nature of the crimes must be considered. But Taylor's attorney said his client no longer takes medication, and he's never had a violent outburst while he's been institutionalized. Taylor was found innocent by insanity for the killings of Timothy Hayden of Menomonie, James Severson and Robert Williams of Eau Claire, and Daniel Lundgren of Esko, Minnesota. The killings occurred between 1985-and-'87. Taylor had claimed to be a "soldier of God" who received radio and TV messages to kill his victims.


Yesterday was the 19th straight day that it snowed in La Crosse. The city's airport recorded only a trace this morning - but it was enough for La Crosse to have its third-longest streak of snowy days on record. The city had 20 straight days of snow in 1969-and-'70 - and 21 consecutive snow days in 1962. It sounds like a lot, but the current streak has not produced very much liquid precipitation - only one-point-seven inches in all. There were traces of snow on five of those days, and measureable amounts of at least a-tenth-of-an-inch on the other 14. The streak may continue tomorrow - but just barely if at all. Scattered flurries are in the forecast statewide, with cooler highs in the upper teens. Up to four-and-a-half inches of snow fell in parts of northern Wisconsin today. Central and southwest areas had a couple inches or less.